New Book by Georgetown Law Associate Dean Rosa Brooks Traces Shift in How America Wages War

August 9, 2016

Georgetown Law Professor Rosa Brooks — who was recently named the school’s associate dean for Graduate Programs — has written How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon (Simon & Schuster, August 2016). The book is the first serious attempt to examine what happens when the ancient boundary between war and peace is erased.

Photo of Professor Rosa Brooks

Professor Rosa Brooks

Once, war was a temporary state of affairs — a violent but brief interlude between times of peace. Today, America’s wars are everywhere and forever: our enemies change constantly and rarely wear uniforms, and virtually anything can become a weapon. As war expands, so does the role of the U.S. military. Today, military personnel don’t just “kill people and break stuff.” Instead, they analyze computer code, train Afghan judges, build Ebola isolation wards, eavesdrop on electronic communications, develop soap operas, and patrol for pirates.

Brooks traces the seismic shift in how America wages war, from her unconventional perspective — that of a former top Pentagon official who is the daughter of two anti-war protesters, a human rights activist married to an Army Green Beret. Her experiences lead her to an urgent warning: When the boundaries around war disappear, we risk destroying America’s founding values and the laws and institutions we’ve built — and undermining the international rules and organizations that keep our world from sliding towards chaos. U.S. precedents have paved the way for the increasingly unconstrained use of military power by states around the globe; meanwhile, we continue to pile new tasks onto the military, making it increasingly ill-prepared for the threats America will face in the years to come.

How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything grapples with issues of the most compelling importance,” said Georgetown Law Dean William M. Treanor. “It will be read and discussed widely, not only here at Georgetown Law but nationally and internationally.”

At Georgetown Law, Brooks has taught international law, national security, constitutional law and other subjects in addition to serving as faculty director of the Human Rights Institute. She writes a weekly column for Foreign Policy and serves as a Schwartz Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation. Brooks returned in July 2011 from a two-year public service leave of absence, during which she served as counselor to Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy. During her time at the U.S. Department of Defense, Brooks founded the Office for Rule of Law and International Humanitarian Policy and also led a major overhaul of the Defense Department’s strategic communication and information operations efforts. In July 2011, she received the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service.

Brooks has also served as a senior advisor at the U.S. Department of State, a consultant for Human Rights Watch, and a weekly opinion columnist for the Los Angeles Times. She has taught at Harvard’s Kennedy School, Yale Law School, and University of Virginia School of Law.

Brooks received an A.B. from Harvard, a master’s degree from Oxford and a law degree from Yale.

The book recently received coverage in the New York Times and was featured on the cover of the New York Times Book Review.